|Position:||The Baxter Family Deputy Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks|
|Alma Mater:||Ole Miss '01|
A member of the Duke staff since January of 2008, Zac Roper serves as the program’s Baxter Family Deputy Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator while mentoring the Blue Devil quarterbacks. From 2013-15, he served as Duke’s Special Teams Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator while coaching the tight ends.
In 2017, Duke’s offense was headlined by three All-ACC selections in center Austin Davis, wide receiver T.J. Rahming and running back Shaun Wilson. For the first time in school history, the Blue Devils boasted three players with 500-plus rushing yards each with Wilson (818 yards), running back Brittain Brown (701) and quarterback Daniel Jones (518). In addition, the Duke ground trio one of just two in the ACC to post 500-plus rushing yards and six-plus rushing scores each, joining league champion and College Football Playoff semifinalist Clemson.
For the second consecutive season, Jones topped the 3,000-yard plateau for total offense and ended the season by earning MVP honors of the Quick Lane Bowl by completing 27-of-40 (.675) passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 86 yards and one additional score in Duke’s 36-14 win over Northern Illinois at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., on December 26, 2017. As a unit, the Duke offense established or matched Quick Lane Bowl records for total touchdowns (5), rushing touchdowns (3), total offensive snaps (92), rushing attempts and time of possession (38:21).
Roper’s first year guiding Duke’s quarterbacks resulted in a record-setting campaign for redshirt freshman Daniel Jones, who established or matched 23 school records including most total offensive yards by a rookie (3,322). For the season, Jones, a Freshman All-America selection, completed 270-of-430 (.628) pass attempts for 2,836 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 486 yards and a team-leading seven scores. He was named Duke’s MVP after the season and received ACC Rookie of the Week honors following performances against Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
In 2016, Roper had Jones at his best against Duke’s toughest opponents. In three games versus ranked foes, Jones completed 54-of-86 (.628) passes for 517 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 124.80 quarterback rating. At No. 7 Louisville, Jones turned in a 149.70 efficiency rating, the highest by a Duke quarterback against a ranked opponent on the road during the David Cutcliffe Era.
As the Blue Devils went 8-5 with a victory over Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl during the 2015 season, Roper coached a pair of All-America performers in return specialist DeVon Edwards and kicker Ross Martin. Edwards set a school single-season record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns while Martin, who finished his career with the second most total points in ACC history, established Duke single-season standards for both total points (120) and field goals (26). In addition, punter Will Monday garnered All-ACC honors for the fourth consecutive season.
Martin was selected to participate in both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl while Monday, also an East-West Shrine Game choice, earned an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. Both Martin (New York Jets) and Monday (Pittsburgh Steelers) signed NFL free agent contracts. Roper’s 2015 tight end unit – a trio consisting of Braxton Deaver, David Reeves and Erich Schneider – combined to post 49 receptions for 410 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2014, Duke had four All-America special teams performers. Punt returner Jamison Crowder picked up second team All-America accolades from Lindy’s while Edwards, Monday and Martin all were honorable mention choices by Sports Illustrated. At tight end, Roper and the Blue Devils overcame the preseason loss of All-ACC performer Deaver, who suffered a season-ending injury in August. Reeves led the unit with three touchdown receptions including the game-winning score in Duke’s 20-13 triumph over Virginia.
The 2013 season marked Roper’s first year directing the Blue Devil tight ends and Duke’s offense featured All-ACC choice Deaver, and Reeves. Deaver finished the year with 46 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns while Reeves became the first player in Duke history with touchdown receptions in multiple bowl games.
Under Roper’s guidance, Duke boasted a pair of 2013 All-Americans in the return game with both Crowder and Edwards garnering recognition. Crowder had two punt returns for touchdowns while Edwards, who returned a pair of kickoffs for scores, averaged 30.2 yards per kickoff return. In addition, Martin and Monday earned All-ACC honors in 2013.
Roper mentored the Blue Devil running backs in each of his first five seasons in Durham. Duke’s rushing attack in 2012 featured three backs — Jela Duncan, Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson — who totaled 1,401 yards while averaging 4.95 yards per carry. The trio also combined for 53 pass receptions for an additional 263 yards.
On the special teams front, Martin and Monday enjoyed successful rookie campaigns that resulted in Freshman All-America recognition. Martin set a then ACC freshman and school single-season record with 106 total points while Monday led the ACC in punting average.
In 2011, Duke scored 19 times on the ground, matching the program’s top output since 1995. Thompson was one of just six running backs in the ACC to amass 450-plus rushing yards, five or more rushing TDs and 20-plus receptions on the year.
In the three-year span from 2010-12, the Blue Devils recovered an ACC-best eight on-side kicks while ranking among the top four in kickoff coverage all three seasons. In addition, Duke was second in the ACC in punt return average in 2012 and scored two touchdowns.
Under Roper’s direction, kicker Will Snyderwine earned first team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association in 2010 after booting what was then a school single-season record 21 field goals along with all 32 of his PAT attempts.
Also in 2010, Duke’s rushing game showed marked improvement by nearly doubling its yardage total from the previous year while rushing for 19 scores.
Snyderwine garnered All-ACC honors in 2009 after making 17 field goals.
In 2008, Roper managed the unexpected loss of returning starting running back Re’quan Boyette by preparing three backs – Clifford Harris, Jay Hollingsworth and Tony Jackson – for action despite the trio combining for a total of 92 career rushing attempts entering the year. The combination rushed for 1,003 yards while catching 51 passes for an additional 421 yards.
From 2005-07, Roper helped Cornell University to an overall ledger of 16-14. He coached the running backs and tight ends during his first two seasons before switching to cornerbacks in 2007 and also served as special teams coordinator.
On the special teams front in 2007, Cornell paced the league in punt return average — returning two punts for touchdowns during the year — and kickoff coverage. The Big Red also posted touchdowns via a fake field goal and kickoff return. Coaching the running backs in 2006, Roper tutored Luke Siwula, who rushed for 885 yards en route to receiving All-Ivy League honors. In 2005, Cornell finished the year ranked 10th nationally in rushing offense.
Roper’s work with the Cornell placekickers yielded zero missed point after touchdown attempts over his three seasons as A.J. Weitsman and Peter Zell combined to boot 84 consecutive extra points. In addition, Weitsman established a Cornell single-season record with 14 field goals while punter Michael Bolling downed 23 punts inside the 20-yard line without a touchback in 2005.
Prior to joining the Big Red staff, Roper spent four years at Ole Miss as a graduate administrative aide and graduate assistant coach under current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. Roper worked with the wide receivers, tight ends and placekickers. Mississippi’s 2003 squad won 10 games with a share of the SEC Western Division title and defeated Oklahoma State, 31-28, in the Cotton Bowl.
Ole Miss kicker Jonathan Nichols enjoyed a sensational season in 2003 by earning All-SEC and All-America honors while winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker. He graduated as the school’s all-time leader in total points (344) and finished his career having made 117 consecutive PATs. Punter Cody Ridgeway was an all-league choice in 2003.
Roper was an undergraduate assistant coach at Oklahoma from 1996-98. He graduated from Ole Miss in 2001 with a degree in political science and went on to earn a master’s degree in higher education/student personnel two years later.
A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Roper is married to the former Rebecca Harvey of Bossier City, La., and the couple has one son, Joshua, and one daughter, Mikayla.